Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Friday demanded a probe into funds allegedly held by some leaders and former ministers belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Waving a sheaf of papers at people who had come to hear her speak at an election rally in Bardhaman, she said she had retrieved “certain documents from the Internet which showed that at least two CPI (M) members, one of whom was a key minister, had crores in their bank accounts.”

“I am demanding an investigation into this as a citizen of the country ... How can Rs. 16 crore land in the individual account of a person,” she asked, wondering if so much was locked up in an account with a domestic bank how much might have been stashed away abroad.

Wondering why the funds had been kept in individual names rather than as party funds, Ms. Banerjee said the CPI (M) had fooled people and its cadres. “They do not seem to have faith in their own party and they expect people to have faith in them,” she quipped. Interestingly a section of the media also carried reports in the same tenor, naming two CPIM) leaders, one of who is a very senior leader from Bardhaman.

CPI (M) State secretariat member Rabin Deb, however, told The Hindu that this was nothing new and it had been a long-standing practice to keep funds in this manner in the name of office bearers. However, on the bank’s advice, the holders’ name was recently changed to that of party. Regarding the funds, he said that this was the ‘levy’ collection from MPs, MLAs and constituted funds such as pension funds.

Referring to the Bardhaman district, which goes to the polls on July 15, Ms. Banerjee said this district was a hub of agricultural as well as industrial activity. Nearly Rs. 40, 000 crore, she said, had been invested in the district, creating about one lakh jobs.

She said that while her party was fighting the panchayat election on its own, an alliance had developed between the Congress, the CPI (M), the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Maoists.

She thanked the people of Jangalmahal for turning out in large numbers for the first phase of the polls. Restoring peace in the area and in the hills was a challenge for her, she said.